Campus Cards, College and University Identification and Security

Fla. school district considers biometrics for students

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Palm Beach County, Fla., school district is considering implementing biometric fingerprint scanners for a variety of student functions, including bus service, library usage, attendance and lunches.

As written on EdWeek’s Digital Education blog, the school district surveyed its principals and found that 60% wanted to add biometrics for a variety of student uses. Based on the survey findings, the district will ask the Board to run a pilot to test its viability.


This isn’t Palm Beach County’s first attempt to try biometrics. It has tried pilot programs in certain school cafeterias, but stopped because the system required parent approval and few parents opted into the system. Students then had to enter an access code to pay for food purchases, which slowed the system and hindered the effectiveness of the biometric technology.

The school district serves 171,000 students.

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The use of biometrics in schools is a hot-button issue, and one that raises significant concerns over the privacy and civil rights of young people. When conducted without the express consent of students – and more importantly their parents and guardians – the results can be disastrous. Just ask the folks at the Polk County School District.

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The use of Social Security numbers has once again become a hot-button topic in Louisiana legislature, particularly for students who often share the sensitive data even without parental knowledge.

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The use of biometrics in schools is once again the topic of debate in the Florida legislature, with lawmakers considering a proposal that would prohibit school districts from collecting biometric information – including fingerprints, handprints, iris and voice.

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The much-publicized biometrics bill in the state of Florida – SB 188 proposed by Sen. Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange – has passed through he House without any additional amendments. The bill awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s signature before becoming law.

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